First Rohingya family returns to Myanmar after conflicts


The conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for the safe and dignified return of Rohingya refugees to their homes, the United Nations refugee agency said, underlining that the responsibility for creating such conditions remains with the countrys authorities.

The structures will be part of the Taung Pyo Letwe receiving center for Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh to seek refuge from violence a year ago and who are willing to return to Burma.

The recent spasm of violence began when Rohingya insurgents launched a series of attacks last August 25 on about 30 security outposts and other targets.

In a statement, the government said, five members of a Muslim family came to the Taungpyoletwea reception centre in Rakhine yesterday.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and the Government of Bangladesh finalized a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Geneva on April 13 relating to voluntary returns of Rohingya refugees once conditions in Myanmar are conducive.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are sheltering at Cox's Bazaar in Bangladesh.

Rights groups have criticised the announcement as a publicity stunt and Bangladesh has distanced itself, saying the repatriation was not part of the return process the two countries have been trying to start.

It is being said, the family members were issued National Verification Cards (NVCs) upon entering Myanmar.

They are now believed to be staying temporarily with relatives in Maungdaw town.

The Facebook post did not mention plans for further returnees expected in the near future.

The move comes despite warnings from the United Nations and other rights groups that a mass repatriation of Rohingya would be premature, as Myanmar has yet to address the systematic legal discrimination and persecution the minority has faced for decades.

The Rohingya are reviled by many in the Buddhist-majority country, where they are branded as illegal "Bengali" immigrants from Bangladesh, despite their deep roots in Rakhine state.

"They were not under our jurisdiction, therefore we can not confirm whether there would be more people waiting to go back [to Myanmar]", he told AFP.

"This is a deception", Rohingya Blogger, a watchdog and Rohingya rights website run by Rohingya activists in Europe, said in a statement on Sunday.

Many have refused to take part in repatriation until they receive guarantees about their rights and citizenship.

The UN maintains that much work needs to be done on the Myanmar side before returns can be safe and dignified.

The agreement, signed by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque, established a framework of cooperation between UNHCR and Bangladesh on the safe, voluntary, and dignified returns of refugees in line with worldwide standards.